I am officially on medical leave from work. Currently planned for 7 weeks, but could end up being more or less.
It just dawned on me that even though my doctor wanted me to take time off for my mental health, it is also for my physical health.
Things have gotten worse, mentally, lately. I’ve been putting a ton of pressure on myself (from both real and perceived situations) and that isn’t good for me mentally.
Physically, it has taken a toll on me. I’m tired, can’t concentrate, I’m irritable, my body aches from being constantly tense, I’m getting lots of headaches, and as my doctor said, I have anxious bowels. TMI, I know. On top of that, I’m not sleeping well, which I figure is being caused by as well as being a contributing factor to my stress, anxiety, and depression that I’ve been feeling.
The anxiety has been there for a long time. At least 20 years (stress along with it), undiagnosed, and I’m kind of just used to it being there. I don’t even know what life is without it.
The depression has been there for about 13 years. Again, undiagnosed because people kept telling me I wasn’t depressed, so I refused to ask for help, because I thought maybe I’m not. Most of the time it’s just kind of there in the background. Most of the it’s time pretty quiet. But I often feel the darkness creep in and take over and I go through a rough patch. This most recent rough patch hasn’t ended yet. Although I have had many happy times in my life, I always feel it, just below the surface. Waiting. Waiting to remind me it is still there.
Often, I’ll be in a situation that makes me feel good, playing with my dog, watching something funny on TV, etc. and then as soon as the funny moment or entertainment ends, or even just pauses, immediately I go back to the dull sort of emptiness. Even while sitting in a group of people. Then someone will crack a joke and I’ll be consumed with laughter, sometimes til my face hurts, but once it’s over, its over, until the next one. I’ll feel sort of empty when I’m with people, but then when I’m alone, its like I feel everything at once. Like all the feelings wait for me to be alone to come to the surface. I don’t often cry in front of people but I cry a lot when I’m alone. Maybe I’m scared to show emotions in front of people because I’m scared of being judged.
I once had someone tell me that every time they saw me, I looked sad or angry, until I noticed them or another person and then I’d smile, and look happy. Normal, I guess. I wasn’t aware I was doing it until after this person pointed it out. I didn’t even think it was particularly depressed at that point. Not too badly anyway. It was there, but not not to the extent it is right now and had been before. But maybe it was there more than I realized.
Anyways, with all this crap going on in my head for so long, I don’t think I know how to live without it. And I didn’t realize the toll it was taking on my body until recently and I realized, while lying in bed just now that this time away to de-stress is also for my physical body.
I had heart palpitations back in 2010-2012, and I still get them occasionally, but not as often as I was then (which was on an almost daily basis) and I’m genetically prone to high blood pressure. This is for my heart.
My stomach is almost constantly in some kind of pain or discomfort whether I eat well or not. This is for my entire digestive system.
I have several old injuries that just never seem to go away. This is for my tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones, especially my shoulder, wrist, both knees, and ankle.
I get lots of headaches, and also assume there is a chemical imbalance in my brain, although mental illness can be caused by other factors, the fact that it began so young makes me lean more towards the chemical imbalance cause. The headaches are likely due to stress. This is for my brain. The most important part of the human body. You can’t live without it. It is connected to everything.
So, for the next 7 weeks I will be relaxing and de-stressing and working on ways to better manage stress in the future.